How You Should Spend Your Time In Order To Increase Happiness

A good article on Stanford Knowledgebase by Alicia DePlante covers research by Aaker, Rudd, and Mogilner.

Here are the takeaway points on how to increase happiness by changing how you spend your time:

Spend time with the right people. The greatest happiness levels are associated with spending time with people we like. Socially connecting activities — such as hanging out with friends and family — are responsible for the happiest parts of the day. However, work is also an essential element in the time-happiness relationship. Although spending time with bosses and coworkers tends to be associated with some of the lowest degrees of happiness, two of the biggest predictors of people’s general happiness are whether they have a ‘best friend’ at work and whether they like their boss. Therefore, people should try to reframe relationships and workplace goals such that colleagues become friends so that time spent at work becomes happier.

Spend time on the right activities. …when deciding how to spend the next hour, simply asking yourself the question, ‘Will what I do right now become more valuable over time?’ could increase the likelihood that you behave in ways that are more in line with what will really make you happy…

Enjoy experiences without spending time actually doing them. ...In short, research suggests that we can be just as well — if not sometimes better — off if we imagine experiences without having them. So to increase happiness, spend plenty of time happily daydreaming…

Expand your time. …To increase happiness, it can make sense to focus on the here and now —because thinking about the present moment (vs. the future) has been found to slow down the perceived passage of time…

Be aware that happiness changes over time. As we age, we experience different levels of happiness and how we experience happiness changes. Recent research found that younger people are more likely to experience happiness as excitement, whereas older individuals are more likely to experience happiness as feeling peaceful…

…Aaker points out that “the experiences people accumulate over the course of spending their limited time, quite literally makes up each person’s life. So, if you take away anything from this research, it should be that spending time with the people you love doing the things you love is the best road to happiness.

One of the authors of the research is Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker.

Her new book is The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change.

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